House Under the Stars - 50with50 No. 39

Starry Night

A nighttime view of our house under the stars in the sky. And don’t be afraid of failure, or you will never learn.

Stars fill the sky above our house in this night view, which is yet another entry in the 50with50 series.

After the success of the recent Comet NEOWISE and Too Many Stars photos, I wanted to try some other nighttime photos, too. After all, the best way to learn is by doing. To try and fail is better than not to try at all, especially if you learn from the failure. And because we have not been anywhere lately as far as travels go, our house was the perfect place to experiment.

You might have a little difficulty believing it, but this was in fact one photo taken at night because it almost looks like there is sunlight on the house. But no, this isn’t some sort of Photoshop job of masking in a nighttime sky over a different photo of the house. This photo was taken around 10:00 PM, well after dark. The light on the front of the house comes from our neighbor’s barn light. Once again, you might have difficulty believing this, too, but that barn light is almost a half-mile from us. When you are out where it is dark, one light can make a big difference. Thanks to the long exposure time, the camera still picked up the light from that one source, even though it was far away.

I did turn off our front yard light, front porch lights, and garage lights. And I had to step over the garage door opener sensor to keep from turning on the light in the opener, too. I didn’t make Laura and Jaylin turn off the lights in the house because I figured that would add a little interest to the photo. But it is interesting how those inside lights were almost overpowered by that distant barn light. At least that light was not enough to overpower the stars. However, the moon was almost enough to overpower them.

What did I learn from this photo? I learned that for nighttime photos of the stars like this it is probably best to wait until the new moon, if you can. When I took this photo, the moon was mostly full, but it was still a couple of hours before it would rise. However, the moon was still lighting up the sky even though it was not itself visible yet. I would have preferred for the sky to look a little darker than it does here, so that the stars would stand out a little more. So if conditions permit, I will be back out trying it again at the first new moon opportunity to give it another try!

Now if I could only get someone to turn off that barn light…

New Tricks

You know that old saying about not teaching an old dog new tricks? Don’t believe it! Even if you don’t consider yourself “old.” Or a “dog.” It is always a great time to learn something.

I firmly believe that if you ever stop learning things, you are dead. Maybe not literally, but you might as well be.

Yes, I know that things seem to get more and more complex. There is a lot more technology out there than what we had not all that many years ago. And if you don’t stay on top of all of that technology, it can be a little hard to catch up.

But do not fear! Don’t be afraid to try! More importantly, don’t be afraid to fail! As I mentioned above, the best way to learn is from a failure. You learn much more that way than by someone else telling you something. Too many times, we equate “failure” with “catastrophic failure.” But the two are not the same. Failure does not have to be catastrophic.

You might be surprised how many photos I took before I got the one that you see above. Some were blurry, others were too bright, still others were too dark. Failures. But I kept on changing and trying something new.

If you want to do something new, give it a try, whether it is a new skill, a new computer program, a new camera, a new phone, starting a podcast, growing a garden, painting a picture, or whatever else. What can it hurt? If you are my age and try something like skateboarding, it might hurt a little. But you don’t know if you don’t try. And no, I am not planning to try skateboarding. But I could if I wanted to.

Don’t be afraid of failure! Learn from it and go on.

Bible Verse

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4

About the Photo

The settings for this photo ended up being very much like the other nighttime photos I have taken recently. I actually tried changing things up. For example, I used a higher ISO setting, but ISO 640 turned out to be just fine. I tried a 10 second exposure, but 8 seconds worked well here. And I knew that I wanted the aperture to be f/1.8, so I did not change that at all. I still have a lot to learn, but I will be shooting the stars again sometime soon!

One of my personal goals for the 50with50 series was to learn more about the 50mm lens. These nighttime photos have definitely helped me in that goal by challenging me in some areas that I am not as comfortable as others. And although I would like to have gone somewhere this summer, it is easier to experiment like this at home, where there is not much as much pressure as when you are off somewhere and feel like it is your one chance to get it right. By learning here, I can be more prepared when we do go somewhere.

Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Aurora HDR. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: SonyFE 50mm f/1.8
Date: August 6, 2020
Location: Home, WillistonTennessee

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.